"The Midweek Read": Charles Robertson & Africa's Next Boom

By: Deonta Wortham

In 2013 Charles Robertson discussed  what he called the "inevitable" rise of the African economy by the year 2050. In his  projections Robertson states one surprising   that by the year 2050 the African economy would have an output of nearly $29 trillion.

$29 TRILLION DOLLARS.

At face value this number is staggering - yes, it is a lot of money - but the hidden implications of that projection mean so much more. 

Today the  economies of the United States and the European Union has respective gross domestic product (GPD) - or relative purchasing power - that total $32.57 trillion combined. Robertson is stating that by the year 2050 the African economic - in a comprehensive sense - will have a thriving base that mirrors that of the worlds most advanced societies. That alone is exciting!

That tells me this: that Africa is going to go from a $2 trillion economy today to a $29 trillion economy by 2050. Now that’s bigger than Europe and America put together in today’s money.
— Charles Robertson

Though, to simply note these forecasts prevents a concise understanding of how the African economy move from have a current GDP of $2 trillion to the massive $29 trillion that Robertson feverishly champions. 

In his intriguing discussion Robertson that governmental reforms- spurred by the spread of democratic values- and introduction of  increasing levels of foreign direct investment (FDI) are injecting energy into economies across the African continent.

I too would agree that these two instruments are contributing to the growth of emerging economies across the continent. I mean the spread of democracy is ideal, it encourages civic participation on the part of all citizens, and enables the establishment of sound social structures (ie. education, medical, legal etc. )  which are the bedrock of any stable society.  Likewise, capital flowing into developing nations provides needed financial support that goes on to spur the development of private firms and ultimately leads to inclusive investments on the part of "local" citizens. Reform and investments are good, hell I'd even say they are absolutely necessary. 

However in the scope of long-term economic development, that is both sustainable and felt by every individual, these two ideas are simplistic short term fixes. 

The presence of FDI in the African context has in fact been shown to hinder effective means of economic growth across the continent. Additionally, the presence of the presence of democratic structure immensely effects the manner in which a society operates, but fails to inherently address the manner in which policymakers can transform their "elected-ness" to tangible means of transformative means of economic growth and increased levels of output. 

The presence of additional factors that ensure these things will propel the African economy into the 21st Century. 

The task at hand is heavy. The process of true economic transformation across the African continent will be riddled with numerous trails and errors, but that should not deter the undeniable fact that Africa is on the rise. 

With strategic reforms that ensure the lasting strength of African economies, coupled with the development of sound financial institutions, and the skill development of the African continent's large youth population, the African economy will not only poised to achieve Robertson's forecast, but it will undoubtedly surpass it. 

African economies simply need to invest in economic mechanisms that will ensure long-lasting results. Failing to do so will not only hinder the development of the entire African continent, but it will additionally entrench the continent in economic behavior that will ceaselessly prevent the establishment of the robust African economic system.